Confused About Your Left and Right? It’s More Common Than You Think

3 min read
Confused About Your Left and Right? It’s More Common Than You Think

Learning the difference between left and right is one of the many things parents teach their kids at an early age, right? But we all know sometimes it’s not that easy to remember.

Have you accidentally turned left instead of right at the lights? Or told someone else to turn left when you meant right (Your left! Your LEFT!!!!). Well guess what, you are not alone. It is actually very common.

Almost 15 percent of the general population have trouble identifying left from right, according to one study.

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Another concluded that right-left confusion “occurs often in adults, even of superior intellect.” While women appear to be more susceptible to it than men.

This young lady thought she would fix the problem once and for all!

Sydney tattoo artist, Lauren Winzer, shared a photo of one of her clients who requested that the letters “L” and “R” be permanently inked on her hands.

“I’ve had hundreds, including myself and friends, talk about getting (similar tattoos),” Winzer said.

“Not only are (the) tattoos cute, but they can also be super functional!!!” she wrote on her Instagram page.

Why do people have trouble telling left from right?

At least two processes are critical for this simple task: a perceptual/spatial process “” picking some side, not the middle; and a labeling process “” sticking the “right” word to the “right” side, said Marco Andre Hirnstein, a professor in the department of biological and medical psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway who studies the phenomenon told TODAY.

It’s the labelling process where things typically go wrong. It’s not as easy as identifying ‘up’ and ‘down’. As things move up or fall down.

But there is no such absolute, physical feature with ‘left’ and ‘right.’

“People try to make it easier by remembering that the right hand is the one they write with, or the left hand is where they wear their wristwatch or the one that allows them to form the letter “L” with their thumb and index finger. But once you figure out your own left and right, you need to grasp that it’s not necessarily another person’s left and right,” he added.

The simple mistake could be life-threatening in some cases

It’s hardly the end of the world if you take the wrong direction on a journey, but there are many situations where confusing right from left can have devastating consequences.

Some of the most tragic errors in medicine have been when surgery was performed on the wrong side of a patient: removing the wrong kidney or amputating the wrong leg.

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The solution?

Most people often resort to different strategies to quickly remember what’s right and what’s left. Some just need to remember the hand with which they write, others remember where the heart is or look at the shape of their hand when holding up their index finger and thumb (the left hand shapes like an L).

Do you struggle to tell your left from right? Have you been in any funny situations when it has caused quite the embarrassment?


Confused About Your Left and Right? It's More Common Than You Think | Stay At Home Mum

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Tracy Hardy

Tracy has been a digital content writer for over 10 years and a crazy mum of two boys for nearly 17, so be gentle! The teen years are rough! Beach lov...Read Moreer. Terrible housekeeper. Tea drinker. Wine sipper, who sadly can't eat cheese or ice cream. Life is cruel! Read Less

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